The City of San Bernardino, under threat of litigation by the state, has agreed to update their housing plan and add an additional 8,123 housing units by 2029.
The settlement, which is in the form of a proposed stipulated judgment and must be approved by the court, is the state’s first related to California’s sixth “housing-element update cycle” for the 2021-2029 time period.
According to the Department of Justice, the City of San Bernardino failed to adopt a compliant housing plan for the 2021-2029 time period by the October 15, 2021 statutory deadline.
“Our state’s Housing Element Law is in place to ensure that all cities build their fair share of housing. No city is spared from that legal obligation. It is not a choice. It is the law,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I applaud the City of San Bernardino’s city council, and its planning and legal team, for recognizing that public resources should be directed at collaborating, rather than further litigating, our way out of California’s housing crisis. State leaders are united and committed to ensuring that every city provides more affordable housing options.”
State law requires local governments to include housing elements in their general plans, which serve as a local government’s “blueprint” for how the city and/or county will grow and develop. A housing element must include, among other things, an assessment of housing needs, an inventory of resources and constraints relevant to meeting those needs, and a program to implement the policies, goals, and objectives of the housing element. Once the housing element is adopted, it is implemented through zoning ordinances and other actions that put its objectives into effect. The housing element is a crucial tool for building housing for moderate-, low-, and very low-income Californians and redressing historical redlining and disinvestment.
Under the settlement, the City of San Bernardino will:
- Adopt a compliant housing element by no later than February 7, 2024.
- Modernize its zoning code by April 17, 2024 in order to meet the housing targets set forth in its compliant housing element.
- Amend its emergency shelter ordinance to conform with state law. State law requires local governments to streamline the permitting process for the construction of new homeless shelters.
- Amend its local density bonus ordinance to conform with state law. State law requires local governments to permit increased density for housing projects that contain affordable dwelling units.
- Be subject to escalating penalties for failure to comply with the terms of the settlement, including limitations on its ability to approve zoning changes and variances, and eventually its ability to permit any development, except for residential projects containing affordable housing.